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ב"ה

Rabbi's Blog

The Rabbi's thoughts culled from the "word from the Rabbi" in his weekly email

Are you in a monogamous relationship?

Monogamy means there is only one person who you connect with on that deep intimate level. It doesn’t happen overnight that you get married and then you are only focused on your spouse. You get there through constant effort and regularly connecting and reconnecting.

In Judaism, a marriage union means exclusively being there for each other and no one else. It doesn’t mean you can’t be in other relationships. Marriage means being exclusively intimate with your spouse and no other.

We find this exclusiveness in a different union. One that is compared to a marriage. The union between G-d and his bride, the Jewish people. Just as in marriage, we need to work on making it an intimate relationship. One where G-d isn’t some heavenly being that is not involved in our lives. Nor one that hangs out in the synagogue. G-d is an existence that cares about us. He is connected with us like a good spouse.

As we continue the month of Elul, let’s ensure our union with G-d is truly intimate, focused and monogamous. Lets get rid of our relationships with other so called “gods” that we worship, like money, fame, our bodies etc.

Throughout this month we need to ask ourselves: Are we monogamous in our relationship with G-d? Are we continuously ensuring that we are connecting and reconnecting?

Ready to fight?

Sometimes, people get under your skin! Some things they do make your blood boil. You just want them to go away. You may want to fight with them to leave you alone.

Now, imagine if we can take that emotion, that fury, that anger and turn it on ourselves! No, I am not saying to get angry at yourself. I am referring to those times when your own negative impulses come up. Do not let your evil inclination get under your skin and wear you down! 

Get angry! Grab a stick! Get ready to fight! 

How do we fight our negative impulses? Ask ourselves if this is what we want to be said at our eulogy. Remembering our mortality is hard. It is hitting ourselves with a stick! However, it is very important; it is what is needed to stop us (at times) from doing the wrong thing.

Tell your evil inclination: Do you know who I AM?! I am a ________ (i.e. loyal person, Jew, lover of Israel, chossid, child, parent, friend), and at my eulogy they will describe me in that way and I won’t let you pester me into doing anything contrary to the person who I want to be. 

As we begin the month of Elul, we work on doing more good and less negative. Let’s beat up the evil inclination and be blessed to win the internal battles and have an amazing year. 

Kushi

P.S. On the topic of mortality, on Sept 3rd we will be having a zoom meeting about estate planning. 

Good Day? Gd Day?

A Mentch Tracht un Gut Lacht - Man Plans and G-d Laughs 

This past week, Fraida went with the kids to visit family. I stayed home and had made plans of what I will get done. After all, they say, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail"!  Each day was busy filled with important work, from planning High Holidays to Hebrew School. However, some of the specific things I had hoped to accomplish did not get done (yet).

One evening, as I was discussing this with Fraida, I said it wasn't the day I planned but overall it was a good day. Fraida responded, the day G-d had planned for you. Good point! When things don't go according to your plan, recognize they are according to G-d’s plan.

This Shabbos, we will bless the month of Elul, the final month of the year. The month of inventory and stock taking.

Rosh Hashanah is on the horizon.  Time to get prepared. We could deny the day is coming for only so long. 

In the great Chasidic tradition, it is told that the wind of Teshuva (return) began to blow already on the Shabbos after Tisha B’Av.

Traditionally, this is a time of reflection on the past year. Did your plans work out? etc. For many, plans did not go as planned, with Coronavirus etc. 

One reflection that I am going to work on is to be conscious that it is always a G-d’s day, whether things go according to my plan or not.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Don't take it for granted!

Have you ever donated to a non-profit and found that they took your support for granted? Did you feel that they no longer saw you as an impact creator, but as an ATM? Did they start to expect gifts without sharing with you how your support betters the world?

It seems like many non-profits do this ☹. I wish it were not true. In the past few days, I have heard that it is not uncommon. A blog, a podcast, and a course I was taking about communicating better all said the same thing.

Do not take the blessings you have; your donors, your family, your friendships, or your health, for granted!

Recognize that your supporters, relatives, friends, and G-d are partners in making the things you want to happen, happen. They are at least equal (many times it is more like 90/10%, with you being the 10%) partners.

It was interesting to me, that in this week’s Torah portion it says: “Beware that you do not forget the L-rd, your G-d, by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command you this day...And you will say to yourself: My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me. But you must remember the L-rd your G-d, for it is He that gives you strength to make wealth, in order to establish His covenant which He swore to your forefathers, as it is this day…..as the L-rd spoke to you.” (Deuteronomy Chapter 8:11-9:3)

I hope I do not take for granted that…

...you read my weekly email
...you support the good work of Chabad
...you consider the Schusterman family one of your friends
...G-d has granted me the honor to do His G-dly work
...G-d has given me a wonderful family
...G-d has given me and my family good health!

What can you be more thankful for?
What do you perhaps take for granted that you might want to revisit?

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